Good Books and the Random Movie

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30 November 2009

Pirate Latitudes

Pirate Latitudes is the final book by Michael Crichton.

Port Royal, Jamaica was traditionally thought of as a port for pirates, though the sanctioned pirates were called privateers. Jamaica was a British colony, but so far removed from the crown - and in Spanish territory - that there was little order imposed by the governor.

In 1665, Captain Charles Hunter learned of a Spanish ship El Trinidad carrying treasure taking refuge at the island of Matanceros. It was separated from the other treasure ships on their way back to Spain from the colonies. Though Matanceros was thought to be impenetrable, Hunter devises a plan to capture El Trinidad.

Found as a complete manuscript after Crichton's death, Pirate Latitudes is a swashbuckling adventure. Though if he had had more time, it would have been a great novel. In spite of its shortcomings, it is a worthy read for any pirate or sailing fans.

Crichton, Michael. (2009). Pirate Latitudes. New York: Harper.

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25 November 2009


Liar by Justine Larbalestier is a book that is hard to describe.

Micah Wilkins is a compulsive liar. She lives in NYC and goes to a private high school. Everything else in the book could be true or it could be one of her many lies. She is an admitted liar whose family has been telling lies for generations.

I do not know what to say about this book since it is hard to tell what is true and what is made up (ignoring the fact that it is all fiction). It could be that Micah is telling her whole story from a padded cell somewhere or it could be that the stranger parts are true.

Larbalestier has done a great job in writing a book that will leave readers thinking. There is likely more than one opinion of what really happened.

Larbalestier, Justine. (2009). Liar. New York: Bloomsbury.

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24 November 2009

Dead Heat (Partners in Crime #3)

Dead Heat by Jacey Ford is the third book in her Partners in Crime series - three ex-FBI agents who start their own security firm.

Daphne Donovan has been able to find people all of her life. She was even a specialist at in the FBI. Now that she is with Partners in Crime, she takes the cases where someone is missing. In her latest case though she is hired to find out if a bank exec's girlfriend is cheating on him.

She would not have even taken the job if her company didn't need the money. What she really wants to do is stay in Manhattan near ground zero. After tracking a suspect whom her bosses at the FBI would not let her arrest, she was on a flight to catch him when he high jacked a plane and flew it into the Trade Center. That was the day she no only quit the FBI but started to blame herself for not stopping the terrorist attack.

While on assignment in Florida she will have a chance to find another dangerous person - something not expected from a case of following a cheating partner. She will also meet a man she cannot intimidate, one who understands how she feels about 9/11 and she will have an opportunity to being the healing process - if she doesn't talk herself out of it.

Ford's three books are good reads, but this volume of the series is by far the best. The complexity of the plot, especially when it is set up as a simple case, captures readers and makes them stay up way past their bedtimes. The only thing I find odd about her books is that she never describes what her characters look like - I can understand wanting to leave some up to the reader's imagination, but I have no idea what Daphne Donovan looks like except her hair and eye color. That being said it is still well worth the time to read this book.

Ford, Jacey. (2006). Dead Heat. New York: Berkeley Sensation.

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23 November 2009

I Spy (Partners in Crime #2)

I Spy by Jacey Ford is the second book in the Partners in Crime series – three ex-FBI agents who have set up their own security firm.

Aimee Devlin has gone undercover in the aeronautics industry. McConnell Aerospace is developing a new propulsion system that would allow a fighter jet to travel around the globe in about an hour and a half. McConnell hired Devlin to find a corporate spy.

The first employee she tracks – Race Gardner – turns out to be with the CIA. The CIA thinks that the spy is not from another aerospace company, but a foreign arms dealer. Together, Aimee and Race, will track the plans from the company, through the thief, to the buyer, and ultimately to the arms dealer.

When Aimee goes undercover she is taking her life in her own hands. She will have to use every skill she learned with the FBI, as well as some of her natural charms, to convince Nic Sabre not to kill her. If she can succeed, it is possible that the dealer along with many of his buyers will be taken down. If not, she will never get to know the man with whom she is starting to fall in love.

Ford (a pseudonym for Beverly Brandt) is a master of taking characters worlds away from each other and having their stories seamlessly come together.

Ford, Jacey. (2005). I Spy. New York: Berkeley Sensation

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21 November 2009

Sharp Shot (Chance #3)

Sharp Shot is the third adventure in the Jade and Rich Chance series by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards.

With their dad away on an assignment, Jade and Rich are surprised one evening by gunfire. And old friend of their father needs help, and he needs it fast. Luckily, Rich was just looking at old photos in his father's desk so he recognized the man who crashed through their door.

Rich and Jade help him get away from the men chasing him. A wild adventure through rural England changes when the three realize that they need to find a crowd to hide in - and what better place to find a crowd than at an amusement park?

I cannot say more without revealing a twist, but the book (and the series) is worth a read. Higgins and Richards can pack a lot of adrenaline into an easy to read, relatively short YA book.

Higgins, Jack. (2009). Sharp Shot. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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20 November 2009

Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic #1)

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede is the first book in her Frontier Magic series. It is sort of an alternate history with magic of the old west.

Eff (short for Francine which she hates) is the thirteenth child born to her parents. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son and thought to be a natural magician and full of good luck. But superstition says that Eff will take her magical abilities and turn bad.

In the city where they were born that may have become a self-fulfilling prophesy - most of her extended family had her convinced that she was bad when she was being a normal kid. When her father was offered a job teaching at a magic college in the far west, all the way to the Mammoth River where the line of magic that protected people from the wild was set up.

As Eff grows from nine to sixteen, the book tells of her study of not only the dominant magic of Avrupa, but some of the techniques of Aphrikan and Hijero-Cathayan as well. She becomes a young woman who is afraid of her potential and must learn how to control her magic.

Wrede has created a world that is both magical and has the feel of frontier life. Magic makes everyday chore easier but some feel that magic is used as a crutch. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

My only less than enthusiastic comment is that I find it odd that with all of the other changes from our own history, the people in the book still celebrate Christmas and read the Bible. Is it because Christianity was so prevalent in our own settlement that it felt authentic to the plot or that Wrede lives in a part of the US where people forget that there are other faiths? It does not detract from the story in any way, it just surprised me when all of a sudden, with no noticeable religion before, it was suddenly Christmas in the story. It may also be that as a member of a non-Christian religion in a predominantly Christian country I am already sick of seeing Christmas decorations - it is only mid-November. Any thoughts on this part of the book would be welcome.

Wrede, Patricia C. (2009). Thirteenth Child. New York: Scholastic Press.

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17 November 2009

Death Run (Chance #2)

Death Run by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards is the second book in the Chance series.

Rich and Jade have adjusted to living with their father John. After their adventures in the first book, they are glad to be going on holiday. Of course, when your father is a secret agent, holidays are not as relaxing as they are for other families.

The Chance family is put in the middle of an international crime ring when John rescues the accountant of the most notorious criminal in Europe. Once again Rich and Jade will have to prove that they are as creative as their father when it comes to survival.

Higgins and Richards have created a fast-paced series that will appeal to a wide variety of readers, including being a good pick for reluctant readers.

Higgins, Jack. (2007). Death Run. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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Dangerous Curves (Partners in Crime #1)

Dangerous Curves by Jacey Ford is the first book in her Partners in Crime series featuring three ex-FBI agents who open their own security firm.

Raine Robey is trying to get back on her feet after being driven out of the FBI when she was investigated for the murder of a suspect. Her own boyfriend, Calder, chose protecting his career over helping clear her name. One year later, her security firm has just signed its first contract.

Raine will be working for Calder on a case that the FBI does not have enough evidence to follow. Calder's hope is the case is going nowhere but that it will give Raine a chance to get her business on it feet - while keeping her out of danger.

His plan backfires - in a twisted plot that seamlessly bring together about four stories - Raine finds herself in the middle of a situation that will use all of the skills she learned as an FBI agent and some of the skills she learned from her father - an alleged famous jewel thief.

Ford creates a story with plot lines that readers will not see connecting until the author reveals the twist. Though I would have like a bit more character development early on in the story, by the end of the book I was a Jacey Ford fan.

Ford, Jacey. (2004). Dangerous Curves. New York: Berkeley Sensation.

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12 November 2009

Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray is a road trip novel with a twist.

Cameron Smith is a teen who is sliding through high school trying not to be noticed. He is totally unpopular and has only a few friends - opposed to his twin sister who hangs with the most popular kids.

But soon, Cameron will be a bit more interesting. At first he is not sure what is going on - he is having hallucinations and his muscles are not always doing what he tells them to. Once his parents notice that there is something wrong and he is not just being a teen, they take him to the doctor.

Cameron is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or Mad Cow, disease. Knowing he has only a short time to live, he takes the advice of a angel (who may be a figment of his imagination) and goes on a quest to find the one man who may be able to cure him.

On his journey, accompanied by a classmate, he will encounter a cult, a famous jazz musician, quantum physicists, spring break in Florida, and a Viking god trapped in the body of a yard gnome.

Libba Bray is obviously mad herself, and her personality comes through in this novel which is the story of a young man learning how to really live for the first time in his life. It is both laugh-out-loud funny and surprisingly heart wrenching.

Bray, Libba. (2009). Going Bovine. New York: Delacorte Press.

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08 November 2009

Sure Fire (Chance #1)

Sure Fire by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards is the first book in their series featuring Jade and Rich Chance.

Jade and Rich grew up with their mother. When she is killed in a car accident, their father comes to get them - the father they have never met. John Chance never knew he had children and now, 15 years later, he is their only living relative. Though he is excited to find his kids, he is in the middle of a dangerous assignment.

When the twins see their father beaten and forced into a van, they know they must do something to help him. They don't know who they can trust - the police, the people who say they are from the intelligence branch, or the helpful woman who is trying just a bit too hard to gain their confidence.

Soon Rich and Jade are fighting bad guys and attacking secure compounds in the former USSR.

This series will appeal to readers who enjoyed other teen spy series such as Alex Rider, CHERUB, and Boy Soldier.

Higgins, Jack. (2006). Sure Fire. New York: Speak.

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07 November 2009

Wildcard (Office 119 #1)

Wildcard by Rachel Lee is the first book in her Office 119 series. Office 119 is an intelligence group funded by the UN to stop terrorists and assassins from controlling the politics of the world.

Tom Lawton is an FBI agent who is currently suspended. But when the winner of the Democratic bid for president is shot, his boss knows that Tom will investigate on his own if he is not included. To keep him busy, Tom and his friend Mariam are assigned the task of looking at right-wing militia groups.

When Tom finds a connection between the Idaho Freedom Militia and an international banker he is taken off of the case. And that is when a mysterious woman agrees to help him investigate on his own. Renate Bachle is part of Office 119 and together she and Tom will uncover a plot to control the future actions of the US Military through the election.

Lee, Rachel. (2005). Wildcard. New York: Mira Books.

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04 November 2009

Fire (Seven Kingdoms #2)

Fire by Kristin Cashore is a brilliant follow up to her novel Graceling and the second book in the Seven Kingdoms series. This second book takes place well before the original with no overlapping characters but treats readers to more fascinating characters in the seven kingdoms.

Fire is made up of two stories that eventually converge. One is of a graceling (one with a special talent) who can alter people's minds. The other is the story of a human monster - in the land of the Dells there are ordinary creatures and then monster creatures of each species. Monsters are bright and beautiful and have power to influence the minds of humans for their own needs.

Lady Fire is a monster who refuses to use her powers to harm others and, in fact, only uses them to protect herself. But when she is called upon by the king to help protect the Dells, she must decide if her power can be used for the protection of others as well.

Fire is a book that is both beautiful and brutal while it addresses the nature of humans - using a monster who is humane and a man who is a monster. Cashore explores issues that are often glossed over in fiction and leaves the reader not only enjoying an addictive story, but thinking about their own role in the world.

Cashore, Kristin. (2009). Fire. New York: Dial Books.

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01 November 2009

True Blue

True Blue by David Baldacci is a thriller with more twists than a roller coaster.

Mace Perry is about to get out of jail after serving two years for being framed. All she wants to do is find a way to become police again. Her sister, Beth, is the Chief of Police for D.C. and just wants Mace to stay out of trouble.

Almost immediately after her release, Mace is caught up in a case - a lawyer was killed and stuffed into a refrigerate. She was discovered by her colleague Roy Kingman.

Mace and Kingman team up to find out who killed his associate while trying not to step o Beth's toes. Mace has the idea that if she can solve a case she will be reinstated to the force. But when the investigation runs into a potential national security issue they may be running for their lives instead.

Baldacci is a master of the genre and always writes a great novel.

Baldacci, David. (2009). True Blue. New York: Grand Central Publishing.

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